« EelmineJätka »
that we should affect the fame for pleafure's fake, but only that this acceffion might render fuch things as we cannot poffibly live without, more grateful and acceptable to us. But when pleasure challengeth reception in her own right (c), it is then luxury. Therefore let us refift the affections at their first intrufion (d); for, as I before obferved, they are much easier rejected at first than when left to themselves to depart. Permit me, you fay, to grieve in fome meafure, and in fome meafure to fear. But fuch measure foon becomes unreasonable: nor can you check it when you please. It may be fafe indeed for a wife man not to fet a guard upon himself: he can restrain both his tears and his joy when he pleases: but because it is not fo eafy for us to return when we will, it is much better not to fet forward.
Panatius (e), I think, gave an elegant and just answer to a young man, who enquired of him, whether it was proper for a wife man to be in love. "As concerning a wife man, faid he, we will confider that "another time; but as for you and me, who are very far from deferv
ing that title, I think it would be better for us, as yet, not to ven"ture upon an affair so turbulent, fo unmanageable, fo liable to enflave "us to the will of another, and defpicable to itself. If the beloved object fhews us a particular regard, we are immediately more in"flamed with her tenderness and good-nature; if the defpifes us, we "are fired with indignation and pride. The love that is too gracious “is as hurtful as that which is too rigid and severe. We are entangled by favour; and must have a strong contention with disdain. Confcious therefore of our own weaknefs, let us defift a while, and be quiet, nor truft our infirm mind to wine, or beauty, or flattery, or any the like attractive charm.” What Panatius here faith with regard to love, I think applicable to all other affections. Let us avoid, as much as we can, walking on flippery ground: we ftand not overfteady on the more firm and dry.
I know, Lucilius, you will here again retort upon us the common outcry against the Stoics. You promife us too great things which are unattainable: you command impoffibilities. We are at beft but poor and infirm
mortals. This felf-denial therefore is too hard a leffon for us (f). We will, we must, grieve a little: we must coset, but it fall be moderately: we must be fometime angry, but we will be appeafed again. But do you know why the things commanded feem impoffible? I will tell you. It is because we think them fo: but truly, they are not fo in fact. We defend our vices, because we love them. out some excufe for them than shake them off. fufficient ftrength, if we would exert ourfelves
And we had rather find
Nature hath given us in the ufe of it (g):
if we would collect our forces, and employ them wholly for ourfulves,. at least not, as usual, against ourselves. We pretend we cannot, but the truth is, we will not.
(a) The will, according to the Stoics, is good, and reckoned among their suradeas, pleafurable
(b) Quafi naturali principio] Seneca fays, quafi, as it were, for if it was truly natural, it would be good.
(c) Not as acceffary, but principal; not as a fervant, but as miftrefs.
(d) Intrantibus resistamas] Sen. de Ira. i. 7. 8. Optimum itaque quidam putant temperare iram, non tollere. Optimum eft primum irritamentum protinus fpernere, ipfifque repugnarefeminibus, et dare operam ne incidamus in iram, nam fi cœperit ferre tranfverfos diicilis ad falutem recurfus eft.-In primis, inquam, finibus hoftis arcendus eft, nam cum intravit et portis fe intulit, modum a captivis non accipit. An enemy is to be driven from the gates as foon as possible, for when they are once entered, they will make their own terms with the captives. Vid. Stoba. Serm. i. Agell. xix. 12. Ariftot. Ethic. ii. iii.
(e) A moft eminent and refpectable profeffor of Stoicifm at Athens, to whofe writings Cicero acknowledges himself much indebted, in compofing his admirable treatife of Moral Duties. Melm. Lal. p. 107. See Ep. 33. N. a.
(f) Hard as it is, this undoubtedly is the Chriftian's leffon. Then faid Jefus to his difciples, if Matt. xvi. 24.will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. any man Mark viii, 34. Luke ix. 23.
(g) Not that we are fufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our fifiiency is of God. Who is able to make all grace abound towards you; that ye always having a fufficiency in all things, may abound in every good work. ii. Cor. iii. 5. ix. 8. And the Lord faid unto me, faith the fame Apoftle, my grace is fufficient for thee: for my ftrength is made perfect in weakness. ii. Cor. xii. 9..
A trifling Question; whether, fince Wisdom is good, it is good to be wife?
Y OU certainly, Lucilius, will create much trouble both to yourself and me; and, while you do not intend it, draw me into ftrife and debate; by pofing me with fuch queftions, as I cannot answer in the negative, without difobliging fome of our own fect; nor in the affirmative with a fafe conscience.
You defire to know my opinion concerning that decree of the Stoics, that wifdom is a good, but to be wise is not. I will first explain to you what the Stoics mean by this affertion, and then freely give you my opinion. It is maintained by fome of us, that good is a body; because what is good, muft act in fome fort; and what acts is a body. Good profiteth, but in order to profit, fomething must be done, and confequently whatever doth it is somewhat, i. e. a body. Now wisdom they fay is good; it neceffarily follows therefore that we must also call it bodily, or fuch thing as hath a body. But to be wife, they range not under the fame predicament. It is incorporeal, and merely accidental to something else, i. e. to wisdom; therefore of itself it doth nothing, nor profiteth. Why then, fay they, do we not affirm, that it is good to be wife? We do affirm as much, only we refer it to that whereon it depends, i. e. to wisdom itself.
Hear then what is faid by fome in answer to this; before I begin to fecede (a), and enlist myself in the oppofite party. By the fame means, fay they, neither to live happily is good; for whether they will or no, they must answer upon their own principles, that an happy life is good, but to live happily, is not, It is further urged by fome in this manner. Would you be wife? if fo, to be wife is a defirable thing, and nothing can he defirable but what is good. Here then they are obliged to change their terms, and to fling in a fyllable which our language will not admit :
what is good, fay they, is defirable, but what is only contingent to good, is to defirable; which, when we have attained good, is not required merely as good, but as an acceffion to the good required. I am not of the fame opinion, and cannot but think the abettors of it in the wrong; forasmuch as they are tied down to their first point, and it is not lawful in difputations to change the terms.
It is ufual to allow a prefumptive argument, and to look upon that as truth, which feems fo to all men: as for inftance; that there are gods. (b) This we esteem as fuch; as it is a general opinion, implanted in the minds of all men; nor is there any nation fo abandoned, as not to believe it. When we dispute likewise concerning the immortality of the foul; it is no small argument with us, that all men agree in fearing, or reverencing the infernal deities. Here then I make ufe of the fame common perfuafion; you will find no one who does not think that both wisdom and to be wife are good. I will not however do, as the custom is of those gladiators, who being overcome, in their last extremity appeal to the people. We will begin again to fight with our own weapons.
What is accidental to man is without the man, to whom it is accidental, or within: if within him, it is then a body, as much as that is, to which it is accidental; for nothing can happen to a man without touching him, and what toucheth, is body. If what happens be without, after it hath happened, it retires, and what retires, hath motion; and what hath motion, is body. You perhaps may expect me to fay, that the course is not one thing, and the running another; nor heat one thing, and to be hot another: nor light one thing, and to be illumined another. I grant that these things are not strictly the fame; yet neither are they of a different clafs. If health be a thing indifferent, so is likewife to be well: if beauty be indifferent, fo is it to be beautiful. If juftice be good, it is also good to be just. If villainy be bad, it is alfo bad to be villainous; as truly, as if blear eyes are a misfortune, it is also a misfortune to be blear-eyed. This is plain, forasmuch as the one thing cannot be without the other.
To be wife,
is wisdom; and wisdom is, to be wife. So that it is fo far from being doubted, whether as one is, fuch is the other, that most men think them one and the fame thing.
But this I would ask further. Since all things are, good or bad, or indifferent, among which do you rank the being wife? They (the Stoics) deny it to be good: but it cannot be bad; it follows then that it must be indifferent. But we call thofe things mean or indifferent, which may happen as well to a bad as to a good man; as money, beauty, nobility. Whereas this, the being wife, cannot happen, or be affigned, but to a good man: therefore it is not indifferent: and it cannot indeed be bad, because it cannot happen, or be affigned, to a bad man : therefore it is good. But it is nothing more, they fay, than an accident to wisdom. Is this then which you call being wife, what makes, or is made, wifdom? Be it either active or paffive, it is ftill a body: for that which makes, and that which is made, is a body; and if it be a body it is good; for this was all that you suppose wanting to it, to prevent its being a good; that it was not a body.
The Peripatetics hold, that there is no difference between wisdom and being wife; because the one is included in the other. For do you think that any one can be wife, but he that bath wisdom? or that any one can have wisdom, without being wife? The antient Logicians first made a diftinction between them; and were followed herein by the Stoics. What this is I will now inform you.
A field is one thing, and to have a field, another. For why? to have a field relates to the poffeffor, and not to the field: fo wisdom is one thing, and to be wife another. I fuppofe you will grant thefe to be two things, the poffeffor, and the thing poffeffed. Wisdom is poffeffed; he that is wife poffeffeth it. Wisdom is, a perfect mind, or what contains the higheft und chief good, it being the whole art of life. What then is to be wife? We cannot fay that it is a perfect mind, but that it is contingent to fome one having a perfect mind; fo that the one